Researchers are already working on a replacement for the increasingly popular technology, using special universal building blocks called Voxels.

There is currently a lot of hype with regards to 3D printing. Researchers are however already working on a replacement technology. Hod Lipson & Jon Hiller of Cornell, working on a concept by MIT’s Neil Gershenfeld, are developing rapid assemblers.

This technology would see Voxels be used as universal LEGO-like building blocks for manufacturing digital materials. The Voxels would be mass produced and tiny. The rapid assembler would select, pick up and deposit the right Voxels in the right place. They would build up the object and the shape of the Voxels and a binding material will glue it together. Different Voxels would have different characteristics, some could be magnetic, some luminescent etc. By combining different Voxels in different amounts you could develop entirely new material characteristics.

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